Brian Eno "Homage" Features Rare Screening of Abstract Films and Live Tribute

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He's a musician's musician who has inspired generations of artists and invented the "ambient music" genre. Coming out of the early British prog scene as a founding member of Roxy Music, his ego was too big to be contained beyond the band's first two albums, so he went solo. During the heyday of late-'70s postpunk, a Certain Ratio named themselves after a snippet of his lyrics. The music man and composer remains an in-demand record producer who has worked on some of the best albums by David Bowie, U2, and even Coldplay. This guy is still name-dropped by hip bands like MGMT, who wrote a song about him titled -- what else? --  "Brian Eno."

He's achieved all of that, and still Brian Eno has not stopped producing his own, mostly experimental albums. Last year, he released two, both fine examples that highlight the vitality of his talents. One is an instrumental work, Small Craft on a Milk Sea, with two important followers of the Eno style collaborating on it, Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams. The other features the poems of young British poet Rick Holland, Drums Between the Bells. Beyond music, Eno gives talks around the world as a sort of intellectual commentator and creates art beyond music from sculptures to video installations. 

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A sort of arbitrary celebration of Eno's talents will take place at Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale under the banner "HOMAGE: In Honor of Brian Eno and His Music" on June 16. Outdoors, the two-and-a-half-hour, unofficial documentary called Brian Eno - 1971 -1977: The Man Who Fell to Earth will screen. It's filled with talking heads and so-called experts covering those earliest years of Eno's career. It is not an authorized doc by the artist by any means, so expect the kinds of exaggerations that any good living legend deserves. That location will also serve as a meetup for record collectors to swap and sell bits of their hoards. Good luck finding vintage Eno records. All of his vinyl remains highly in-demand.

Inside the theater is the main attraction. The currently out-of-print DVD 14 Video Paintings, featuring a series of short, minimal films by Eno, will unfurl on the big screen. Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan, a 47-minute film of the Manhattan skyline shot by Eno out of his apartment window in 1980-81, will open the show. He edited a series of seven short films of the material in 1987, capturing instances of the same view at various times of day, in different kinds of weather, with the zoom adjusted at different distances and objects. All unfold in real time without edits. On the soundtrack are selections of Eno's seminal ambient works, Music for Airports (1978) and On Land (1980).

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Also screening is 1984's Thursday Afternoon, a series of abstract blurs in-between gorgeous, slow-motion images of a nude model (Christine Alicino) that runs 82 minutes. With the use of effects and a controlled effort in manipulating images, it makes for a more expressive art piece. The film features original ambient music. "Eighty-two minutes of a girl floating by," says Steven Toth, describing the video. He's one of the musicians scheduled to perform their own Eno tribute music when the latter piece is replayed. "I particularly love it. I watch it all the time and listen to the music. I don't know about anybody sitting in the movie theater that long," he adds with a laugh.

Toth, also known as Mr. Entertainment, has spent a month with his collaborators in the Pookiesmackers, rehearsing both solo Eno tunes. This includes music from his early days as a surreal pop solo artist existing somewhere in the crevasses of glam, prog, and soul, in the vein of Here Come the Warm Jets (1973), as well as some of the more famous tunes he has cowritten with the Talking Heads and David Bowie. "We leaned toward stuff he produced," explains Toth, though he refused to specify titles.

At first, Toth admits, he dreaded having to spend so long learning cover songs, but he found that peeling apart the intricacies of Eno's music offered its own rewards. "We had a blast deconstructing that stuff," Toth says.

Kicking off the live music will be Möthersky, a duo composed of Richard Vergez and Kelvin Mitchell. Guitarist and ambient nob-twiddler Vergez said he plans to do something a bit different from just covering Eno pieces. "I'm going to be interpreting two pieces from Another Green World: 'The Big Ship' and 'Sombre Reptiles,' which are two great, great tracks that I've always thought were too short, at about three minutes, so I'm going to use those as a template and expand on them and make them my own."

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Also paying tribute to Eno that night is Mark Kramer, a man best known for starting the indie label Shimmy Disc in New York City, a touchstone of early indie rock. Kramer, a legend in his own right, introduced artists like Galaxie 500, Ween, and Daniel Johnston in the late '80s via his label. He was also one-half of the duo Bongwater with actress Ann Magnuson. Though Shimmy Disc is no more, Kramer still records solo albums and spends most of his days globe-trotting the world as a producer. He happens to live in South Florida nowadays, and it seems a chance to cover Eno in front of a live audience was something he could not resist. "He's kinda coming out of the woodwork to do some Roxy Music songs, I heard," Vergez said of the reclusive Kramer.

With that, the night has certainly become an event for the hard-core music geeks (us included), and a "Once in a Lifetime" sort of event. "Same as it ever was?" No way!

Homage: In Honor of Brian Eno and His Music. Doors/Records swap at 8 p.m., 14 Video Paintings screening at 9 p.m. Live music at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-449-1025, or visit jointherevolution.net. Admission is $8. All ages.

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Ex Norwegian
Ex Norwegian

Brian Eno's finest moment will be his cameo in Father Ted's final episode.

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